There may be new life for the former Winnebago County Jail and former Irish Hospital facility. The Forest City Economic Development Director Beth Bilyeu met with development officials who may want to purchase the building and convert it into apartments. Kristen Peterson with Redevelopment Resources Inc. from Madison, Wisconsin is looking to revamp the facility in order to add more housing to the city.
Forest City has done studies examining the need and feasibility of new housing within city limits. The studies have shown there is a definite need considering the manufacturing industry, warehouses, professional trades, and general professional employment market is in need of quality employees. Those employees need quality housing nearby in order to work in the area.
Those study results are not alone in indicating a strong need for affordable quality housing.
The facility was abandoned by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office because of the condition of the building. Mold is growing inside the facility and several areas will be in dire need of repair, but Peterson believes the building can be returned back to its former glory.
Peterson has toured the site and seen the amount of work that needs to get done before it becomes livable again. There will also be a lot of expense involved in doing so. The company is trying not to turn it into a low rent apartment project.
The Winnebago Board of Supervisors has tried twice to sell the property and even considered leveling the site in favor of a parking lot. The board will have to set a third public hearing date for residents to voice their opinion on the matter, before even entertaining the idea of selling the property. The public hearing may take place before the end of June.